|Marco Polo travels the Silk Road|
For Afghanistan to truly become the center piece of a new Silk Road, it must build the infrastructure necessary to carry trade. Afghanistan lacks in road, rail and pipeline development. Afghanistan's main highway, the A01 is only a two lane road. Although part of the planned Asian Highway Network, the two lane A01 will choke traffic entering into Afghanistan. In addition to underdeveloped road networks, Afghanistan lacks in rail development. Similar to the Asian Highway Network, the Trans-Asian Railway Network, which plans to connect the states of Asia through railroads, has no plans to lay track in Afghanistan. Unlike many of the other states of Central Asia, Afghanistan has virtually no oil or natural gas resources to exploit. Pipeline construction in Afghanistan has consisted mainly of providing supply to NATO bases. Most planned Central Asian pipelines bypass Afghanistan, choosing instead to pass through Iran's more secure territory.
|The Trans-Asian Railway Network bypasses Afghanistan|
When Marco Polo traveled the Silk Road in the 13th century he did so with the blessings of Kublai Khan. The grandson of Genghis Khan and ruler of the Mongol Empire, Kublai Khan and his Mongol riders ensured the safety of travelers on the Silk Road. Much like how the US navy underwrites the safety of international maritime trade today, the Mongol Empire provided the security necessary for the Silk Road to flourish. While it is unlikely that another unitary empire will control all of central Asia, individual state security ought to be enough to ensure the rise of the modern Silk Road. If President Hamid Karzi truly hopes for Afghanistan to become the "Asian Roundabout" he must provided the security necessary to bring traders to his country's proud and ancient cities.